Building a Family Room Addition
Building, Planning and Designing a Family Room Addition
By Mark J. Donovan
One way to create extra finished living space for
your family is to build a family room addition. A family room is ideal for
creating a relaxed living space for family and friends to retire to at the
end of a busy day to socialize, and/or watch a game or show. Often family
room additions are built off the side or back of a home adjacent to the
kitchen area, making a big finished area that is ideal for large gatherings.
Building a family room addition also makes an excellent investment decision
as prospective young buyers always like to see them, particularly when they
are built adjacent to a kitchen. This way the young parents can keep easy
tabs on their small children while they are working in the kitchen.
If you are considering a building a family room
addition there are a number of important things you should be aware of and
should consider in its design.
Summarized below are the key items you should think about as part of the
planning and design process of your family room project.
Family Room Design Considerations
First and foremost write down what you want to achieve in your family room
design. For example, how large of a family room do you desire? How many square
feet will it be? Where will you position it relative to the existing home? Also,
what particular features do you want to incorporate into it, e.g. a cathedral
ceiling with skylights, an ingress/egress exterior door, hardwood floors or
carpeting, etc. Write down all of the important features and materials you want
to include in your family room plans.
After you clearly understand what you want to build for a family room, then do
some competitive market analysis (CMA) of your home pre and post the family room
addition. This will give you an idea of how much money you can sink into the
family room addition and still have it as a positive investment. The CMA process
involves gathering a list of homeís currently listed for sale in your community.
You then compare the price of them versus your home. You will need to develop
two sets of comparisons, one without the family room addition and one with. You
may want to work with a real estate agent to help conduct the CMA.
In the end the CMA should give you an idea of what
your maximum budget should be for the room addition, such that the project is a
positive financial investment right from the start.
Generating Family Room Plans
Once you have come up with a rough size of your family room addition, at least
in terms of square feet, the next step is to put together a complete set of
construction plans. You may want to enlist an architect to help you with this,
or alternatively, there are number of home design software packages on the
market that you can use to create your own set of plans.
It is important to keep in mind when generating your family room plans that both
the interior and exterior of the addition need to meld well functionally and
aesthetically into the existing home. Also, the room addition should be sized
such that it does not represent more than a third of the length of the home when
looking at it curbside. If it is any larger it will look out of proportion with
the main part of the house.
Key areas to watch out for when generating the plans are the roof lines,
elevations and the placement of windows and exterior doors. Again, they all need
to meld well into the existing home. It is often with these particular items
that homeowners get frustrated attempting to generate their own set of plans and
end up calling in an architect to help.
You should also visit your local building inspector while developing your set of
family room plans to make sure there are no specific setbacks and easement
restrictions that you need to be aware of.
They can also make you aware of any important
building codes that you need to include in your family room plans. In addition,
the building inspector will be the one that grants you the permit to build the
addition, and will most likely be the one to conduct the various inspections
required during its construction. So it is good to make him or her aware of your
intentions early on in the design process.
Once you have a set or room addition plans and budget you can determine how much
financing you will need to obtain, unless of course you are paying cash for the
project. If mortgage rates are currently low, relative to your existing
mortgage, then you may want to refinance your entire home and request a loan
size that includes the construction of the family room addition. If mortgage
rates are higher than your existing mortgage rate, then you may want to go with
a home equity loan to fund the room addition project.
How Much Sweat Equity Will You Be Putting into the Project?
Many homeowners building a family room addition decide to either be their own
general contractor on the project, and/or plan to do much of its construction.
First, unless you have previous construction experience building and managing
many subcontractors, I would suggest you steer away from the idea of acting as
your own general contractor. Yes, you could potentially save a few dollars by
being your own general contractor, but it is just as likely you could spend
more. A general contractor has experience with large construction projects, and
knows how to manage subcontractors. He will also more likely get lower cost
subcontractor bids than you would since he does business with the various
subcontractors on a regular basis. He also knows who to hire and who not to. Key
trades people that will need to be hired include an excavation contractor,
foundation contractor, framing crew, electrician, plumber, insulation
contractor, mason, and drywall contractor. In some cases you may also need to
hire a roofing contractor if the framing contractor is uninterested in doing
In regards to the personal sweat equity, donít over estimate your skill levels
and available time to do the work. If you do, it may take you a lot longer to
complete the room addition than you could have imagined. Also, if you donít have
all of the proper tools for the particular areas you want to do the work on,
youíll need to account for the purchase or rental of the tools.
All this said, there are some areas of work that many homeowners can do, such as
painting, tiling, and finished carpentry work. So think carefully what you
really have the time and skills to do before biting off more that you can chew.
Photo by Mark Donovan
Disruption to the Family
Building a family room addition will no doubt cause some disruption around your
house, and particularly so if the family room addition will attach to your
kitchen. A family room construction project is akin to building a small house,
so there will be many contractors to have to work around, and as a result, there
will be dirt, dust and mess to contend with. Also, since a family room addition
is such a large project, expect the construction to go on for up to three
months. In addition, you will be asked to make hundreds of small decisions
during the construction, so be prepared to have to invest some time and energy
supporting the general contractor and crew.
One key suggestion, I highly recommend renting a portable toilet and placing it
on your property to prevent the need for contractors from having to traipse
through you house to visit your bathroom, or even worse.
So after considering all of these important factors in building a family
room addition and still feeling up for the challenge, then go ahead and jump
with both feet into the project. Generate the plans, find a reputable
general contractor, obtain the financing, pull the permits, and begin the
construction of your new living space. With any luck, within two to three
months your family will be enjoying their newly finished living space in
For more help on building a family room addition, see HomeAdditionPlus.com's
Room Addition Bid sheet.
Room Addition Bid Sheet
will help ensure that your room addition project goes smoothly and is
completed on time and budget.
Related information on Building a Family Room Addition
Additional Home Remodeling and Building Resources
Free Family Room Addition
Price Quotes with No Obligation!
Fill out our 3-5 minute quick and easy form, and receive a
free price quote on a home addition from one of our prescreened and licensed
home addition contractors. This process is free and there is no obligation to
continue once you receive your home addition price estimate.